By MIKE CHAIKEN
In addition to a variety of steampunk classes at the Brass Ring Academy this weekend and the steampunk flavored music cranking at the Brass Ring Cabaret on Saturday night, there will be steampunk influenced vendors all weekend at The New England Carousel Museum.
Ginger Seibert, the designer behind Midnight Orchid clothes, will be returning this year for the annual steampunk gathering in Bristol, Conn. Via email, Seibert spoke about her life in steampunk and as a designer.
Q: How did you get introduced to the world of steampunk?
A: Honestly I was chatting with a vending friend and she said, “Hey, you should do this event and so it began.
Q: What did you find appealing about it?
A: I do enjoy the diversity of the steampunk society. It really is a great mix of all ages, families, and imagination
Q: What are some of your favorite dimensions of the community?
A: Again it is the variety. I love seeing what everyone’s imagination merges into. It really is a great community of people.
Q: How did you get into designing clothing for the steampunk community?
A: I started making clothing when I was a young girl for Civil War reenacting. My parents were Sutlers (civilian merchants who sold to goods to the army) and my mother taught me to sew. I won my first historically accurate dress competition at 9 years old. From there, my mom and I moved into the (Society for Creative Anachronism) and I began making belly dance clothing and performing. That was really because there was not much natural fabric clothing out there for a tall girl. Steampunk really fell into my lap and gave me a way to diversify my designs— along with an outlet for some of my crazier ideas that have no real place in say Goth, belly dance, SCA, Civil War, etc.
Q: Describe your particular fashion voice… what is your individual vision for steampunk fashions?
A: I am not really sure that I have a direct fashion voice. My main staple hitcher skirts and boleros sets were built to accommodate all shapes and sizes. From there, the other items I make are built from found objects. That for me is the challenge. An example would be my husband’s old army uniforms, which we have repurposed into crop jackets, shorts, and chap shorts or the World War II Army scarves that I have turned into hooded shrugs and neck warmers. I even work in upcycled kimonos and obi into dresses and tops. Just to name a few things.
Q: What is the challenge in creating steampunk fashion as compared to something that’s more over the counter?
A: I would not say it is a challenge. I enjoy that I can work in alternative mediums and create more wearable art. The biggest challenge for my company is, almost all of our items are one of a kind, which makes posting them for online sales a lot of work.
Q: Who do you see as your particular customer?
A: For me, my customers are everyone. I love that I can make a mother feel beautiful and due to adjustability many times they can share the pieces with their daughter. The men love our steinkirks. It gives them a fun way to express themselves or tie in with the tie vest their wife is wearing. Even our Kimono dresses look wonderful on all shapes and sizes and varieties of layering.
As part of the Brass Ring Academy and Cabaret, a fashion show—featuring the guests at the event as the models—will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. Seibert was asked to provide some guidance for those attendees looking to be selected for the sartorial showdown.
Q: For you, just as a fan of Steampunk, what are some musts for Steampunk attire?
A: A must would be an idea and time to build it. Don’t just put a gear on it. Make that gear do something. Don’t just wear a corset make it a base layer to a whole outfit. Basically if you can dream it you can work towards building it or having it commissioned. This really is a make your dream idea come true kind of group.
Q: As someone who designs for the steampunk community, what kind of tips would you give to those attending the show and wanting to be featured in the Brass Ring Fashion Expo?
A: I feel just give it a try. Any effort is appreciated. Otherwise bring or wear the piece you love and come visit me at the booth and I will help finish your outfit.
For more information or to buy pieces from Midnight Orchid, visit them at the Brass Ring Academy and Cabaret or go towww.facebook.com/MidnightOrchidDesign or https://www.etsy.com/shop/MidnightOrchidDesign
The Brass Ring Academy and Cabaret will be held Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 7 and 8 at the New England Carousel Museum, 95 Riverside Ave., Bristol.
The Academy is Saturday, Jan. 7 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and is all ages.
The Cabaret is Saturday, Jan. 7, from 7 to 11:30 p.m., and is 18 plus.
The Workshop on Sunday, Jan. 8, is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is all ages.
For more information, go to www.brassringct.com.